To know wisdom and instruction,
To perceive the words of understanding,
To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity;
To give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.
As we discussed yesterday, in digging deep into the preamble of Proverbs 1, we came across a few intriguing verbs: know, perceive, receive, and give and also the nouns associated with those verbs: wisdom, instruction, understanding, justice, judgment, equity, knowledge and discretion.
In Proverbs 1:2-4 we again find:
To know wisdom and instruction,
To perceive the words of understanding,
To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity
To give prudence to the simple (and to give) to the young man knowledge and discretion.
As a reminder, notice again the natural progression of action. To know, then to perceive something, then to choose to personally receive and embrace what we now know and perceive, and finally to share, to give what we have now received to someone else.
We’ve already looked at the first three verbs. Now let’s spend some time trying to see and understand what the Lord expects us to do with what we’ve now received from Him, in Christ, by grace.
And the answer to that question is found in one simple word: give.
But a few questions remain. What are we to give to others? And who are the others we are to give something to?
So what are we to do with what we have received from Him? We are to give it away, we are to give our very lives to others. This is the meaning of: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39).
Question: But what are we to actually give to others?
Answer: What we have received from Him: grace, love, understanding, hope, and wisdom.
Question: And who are we to share and give His wisdom to?
Answer: Everyone. But specially the “simple” and the “young man.”
Look again at Proverbs 1:4: To give prudence to (who) the simple, to the (who) young man knowledge and discretion.
Four words stand out in this verse: prudence, simple, knowledge and discretion. We are to give prudence, or shrewdness, cautiousness to the simple. In fact, prudence can also be translated as common sense, care, or good judgment. The word simple means naive, foolish, gullible, inexperienced, or simpleminded— pretty much the opposite of prudence. It describes someone not firing on all cylinders, or someone who doesn’t have it all together, or someone lacking wisdom and common sense.
The Proverbs speak much about the simpleminded person. For example:
Proverbs 1:22 – “How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity?” For scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge.
Proverbs 7:7 – And saw among the simple, I perceived among the youths, a young man devoid of understanding.
Proverbs 8:5 – O you simple ones, understand prudence, and you fools, be of an understanding heart.
Proverbs 14:15 – The simple believes every word, but the prudent considers well his steps.
Proverbs 14:18 – The simple inherit folly, but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.
Proverbs 22:3 – A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished.
Therefore, we are to give, or place before, the simple, the naive, the gullible, those lacking common sense, good judgment and discipline, prudence. We are to give to those lacking wisdom the very wisdom from God that we possess in order to help them make good, God-honoring choices with their lives and not be led astray into sin and its consequences. And we can only do that by opening our mouth and speaking truth to those who may, or may not, appreciate what we’re about to say. But that doesn’t matter, does it? All we should be concerned with is our obedience to give what we know and perceive and have received, by grace, from Him.
Again, note the progression: First, we know God’s truth by experience and acceptance. Next, we perceive by our senses the impact of this profound truth concerning God’s wisdom. Our eyes are now opened to the truth in a new and unmistakable way. Then, we must make it personal by choosing to receive what we know and now see into our lives. This demands obedience, an all-or-nothing commitment to what we know to be true. And finally, we are to be willingly spent on others, as Oswald Chambers would say, “like broken bread and poured out wine.” We are to give to others what we have received by grace, especially the most vulnerable of all people, the “simple” and the “young men.”
The Young Men
Why did Solomon single out the “young men”? Because they tend to be the most zealous, the strongest, the easiest swayed, and the people who need the most guidance. When we use the phrase, “He went off half-cocked” we are not usually referring to an older man or any woman or a child. It’s the young man, the punk, the headstrong, the “better get out of my way” man. It’s “zeal without knowledge” on steroids. “Don’t try to confuse me with the truth, I’ve already made up my mind.” Remember?
Also it is not good for a soul to be without knowledge, and he sins who (zeal) hastens with his feet (Proverbs 19:2).
For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God (Romans 10:2-3).
So what are we to give these excited, passionate, yet sometimes misguided young men? The Proverbs say knowledge and discretion. Or, understanding, insight, wisdom and a purpose or a plan in which to apply what they now understand. It’s the antidote of going off half-cocked, or saying, “I’ve just got to do something, even if it’s wrong!” It’s the opposite of “calling your own shots” or “doing what seems best in your own eyes” (Jud. 21:25). Having “knowledge and discretion” is being able to think clearly, without being overwhelmed by strong, confusing emotions, and then following the truth and the facts to a course of action that is “true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy” (Phil. 4:8). It’s being “in Christ” and living in the wisdom of God.
It’s also the one thing that can save our younger generation today: wisdom, an understanding of life and the things of God, and a purpose or plan in Him, God ordained, that gives life meaning. After all, Proverbs 7:7 says, “And (I) saw among the simple, I perceived among the youths, a young man devoid of (what) understanding.” Yes, understanding. And it’s up to us to give to these He loves what we’ve already received in Him, by His grace.
Would you join with me in this?
The Four Verbs
Having wisdom, having the “mind of Christ” (2 Cor. 2:16), and having Christ Himself, who “became for us the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:30) involves responsibility. It’s not for us to hoard or keep selfishly, miserly to ourselves. We are not independent contractors, free agents or lone wolves. Remember, we are the “light of the world” and a “city that is set on a hill.” So “let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:14-16). We are, like our Lord, to live for others and not ourselves.
The Proverbs reveal to us the process of receiving the wisdom of God and then show us how to give it lovingly to others. We first know, then perceive inwardly, then choose to receive on His terms, and finally determine to give, no matter how uncomfortable that might make us feel. And in doing so, we imitate the life of Christ to others (Eph. 5:1) and bring the Father glory.
Which is the main point, isn’t it? Bringing God glory. It’s what Jesus lived for and it should be our passion, the driving, pulsating purpose of our existence. Will you join with me in this lifelong endeavor of receiving wisdom from God and then gladly, joyously giving it all away? Will you spend your life, like our Lord, serving others?
Adveho quis may.
Come what may.
1. How would you describe your ministry to others?
2. How would you describe your ministry to others that are not family members or friends or members of your own church?
3. Is there a difference between your answer to Question 1 and Question 2? And, if so, why?
4. Do you believe the Lord has given you His wisdom? And again, if so, why? Did He bless you with His wisdom for you to be wise only to yourself or those you love? Or, could there be something more He has in mind?
5. On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate God’s wisdom in your life right now and in your decision making process? What was it yesterday? Are you growing in the wisdom of God? And, if not, why?
Next Step Challenge
Take your Bible and look up the following verses, in order to read them in context, and see what you can learn about your responsibilities to others as a Christian. Do any of these apply to you?
Mark 16:15 – And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”
Does this mean you?
Psalm 96:3 – “Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples.” Again, does this verse apply to you?
Are you to declare His glory and wonders among the people?
Revelation 14:6-8 – “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth— to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people— saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.'”
If God proclaims His Word by angels in the future, how will He use you today to do the same?